WO2017059480A1 - Improvements in food storage - Google Patents

Improvements in food storage Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2017059480A1
WO2017059480A1 PCT/AU2016/000344 AU2016000344W WO2017059480A1 WO 2017059480 A1 WO2017059480 A1 WO 2017059480A1 AU 2016000344 W AU2016000344 W AU 2016000344W WO 2017059480 A1 WO2017059480 A1 WO 2017059480A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
date
use
product
food
unique identifier
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2016/000344
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Benjamin James YOUNG
Original Assignee
Think One Pty Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2015904103 priority Critical
Priority to AU2015904103A priority patent/AU2015904103A0/en
Application filed by Think One Pty Ltd filed Critical Think One Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2017059480A1 publication Critical patent/WO2017059480A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F15/00Digital computers in general; Data processing equipment in general
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/30Product recycling or disposal administration
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02WCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO WASTEWATER TREATMENT OR WASTE MANAGEMENT
    • Y02W90/00Enabling technologies or technologies with a potential or indirect contribution to greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions mitigation
    • Y02W90/20Computer systems or methods specially adapted for waste reduction or recycling of materials or goods

Abstract

A method to reduce food waste by alerting consumers of the use-by date, use before date, or best before date on the food in advance of the date. The food may comprise fresh food, chilled food, frozen food and packaged food. The term food is meant to include liquids as well as solids. A NFC chip is attached to the food packaging or container and an App driven NFC enabled mobile phone or tablet is used to track the use-by date.

Description

IMPROVEMENTS IN FOOD STORAGE

TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention is directed to improvements in monitoring food in storage and especially in reducing food waste. The food may comprise fresh food, chilled food, frozen food and packaged food. The term food is meant to include liquids as well as solids. BACKGROUND

Any references to methods, apparatus or documents of the prior art are not to be taken as constituting any evidence or admission that they formed, or form part of the common general knowledge.

One significant cause of food wastage in households is in the expiry of the use- by date prior to the food being consumed. This includes cooked food which is placed in the refrigerator or freezer for later consumption. Such cooked foods need to be consumed within a certain time, generally referred to as a "use-by date" to avoid loss of taste, freshness and, in extreme circumstances, food poisoning. The "use-by" date may also be variously known as, the "use before date", or "best before date" or "consume by date" or similar indicator of a date by which the product should be used. The most appropriate use-by date is not necessarily the use-by date that appears on a products label as subsequent freezing or other storage regimes may extend that date.

While supermarket tinned and packaged food are labeled with a best before or use-by date, these dates can be extended by subsequent refrigeration or freezing of the food. For instance, the use before date of chilled meat can be considerably extended by subsequent freezing at home. Thus, the manufacturer provided use-by date on food in a household refrigerator/freezer should not necessarily be relied upon as the date can be considerably extended. Also, home prepared meals and food which is subsequently chilled or frozen have no manufacturer applied use-by date.

There is much guesswork used in determining how long food, and especially home prepared food, can be safely stored in the refrigerator, and it is not surprising that much food is disposed of as the householder cannot remember how long the food has been in the refrigerator/freezer and will not take risks. Another problem is that it is not uncommon for food (and especially frozen food) in a refrigerator, or food in a cluttered pantry, to be forgotten over time. This also leads to wastage.

Another problem is that some food is wasted as the householder does not have the additional ingredients to prepare a meal. For instance, a chilled salad leaf mix may be thrown out just before the use-by date as the householder does not have other ingredients to make a meal incorporating the salad leaf mix.

Another problem is that a freezer or refrigerator may contain several prepared meals with different use-by dates. There would be an advantage if these meals could be retrieved sequentially such that no or less meals are wasted.

It is an object of the invention to provide improvements in food storage that may overcome at least some of the abovementioned disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for monitoring a use-by date of a product comprising the steps of: associating a machine readable unique identifier with the product;

operating a microprocessor based unique identifier reading device to read the unique identifier; storing a use-by date for the product in association with the unique identifier; and

issuing an electronic notification to a User prior to the use-by date to thereby assist the User to avoid wastage of the product.

Preferably the machine readable unique identifier comprises a near field communication (NFC) chip, though it could instead be a barcode or another type of device that can store a unique identifier and be read at a small distance. Preferably the step of associating the machine readable unique identifier with the product comprises fastening the NFC chip to a container in which the product is stored.

The NFC chip may be embedded in a member that is detachable from the container, for example a vent cover disk which fixes into a vent of the container. Alternatively the NFC chip could be integrated into the material of the container.

Preferably the method includes operating the microprocessor to determine the use-by date from information entered by a User including information regarding storage conditions for the product.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention the type and frequency of the notifications is set according to User preference. The method may include notifying the User by any one of a message on a screen of the device; a short messaging service (SMS) text message; or an email, for example.

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a use- by date monitoring apparatus for preventing wastage of a spoilable product including:

a microprocessor in communication with an electronic memory; a reading assembly in communication with the microprocessor for reading a machine readable unique identifier;

the electronic memory containing machine readable instructions for the microprocessor to:

read the unique identifier;

associate the unique identifier with the spoilable product;

store a use-by date for the spoilable product;

issue a notification within a period prior to the use-by date whereby a recipient of the notification is able to take action to avoid wastage of the spoilable product.

Preferably the machine readable unique identifier comprises a NFC tag or as it is equivalent^ called an "NFC chip". The reading assembly may be arranged to read and write to the NFC tag.

In one embodiment the electronic memory includes instructions for the microprocessor to operate the reading assembly to write data to the NFC chip indicating that the NFC chip has been read.

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer software product comprising tangible, non-transitory instructions for a microprocessor based device to read the unique identifier;

associate the unique identifier with the spoilable product;

store a use-by date for the spoilable product; and

issue a notification within a period prior to the use-by date whereby a recipient of the notification is able to take action to avoid wastage of the spoilable product. For example the software product may be provided on a machine readable media such as a magnetic or optical disk or a non-volatile memory circuit such as a USB stick or memory card.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for improving food storage, the method comprising providing a unique identifier in association with the food, providing a reader adapted to read the unique identifier, calculating a date that the food should be consumed before, entering the date into the reader, the reader able to provide a notification on when the food should be consumed.

The term "food" is meant to include solids and liquids and thus the term "food" is meant to include drinks. A spoilable item may be a food item but it could also be medicine or another item that may lose its potency or become rotten if left for too long.

The unique identifier may comprise a NFC containing device. The NFC containing device may comprise a disc, button, tag, label, sticker, clip, or any other suitable shaped and conFigured device. The NFC containing device may comprise a rigid member, a flexible member, or a resilient member.

The NFC device may comprise a passive device to enable a reader to read information from the device and also may enable some data to be written and or secured onto the device storage. Suitably, the NFC containing device is dishwasher safe and/or microwave safe.

A protective cover may be provided for the NFC containing device to assist in making the device dishwasher safe and/or microwave safe. The NFC containing device may be a fixed device or a removable device.

The NFC containing device may be attached to the food packaging. The food packaging may comprise a bottle, jar, can, box, packet and the like. Alternatively, the NFC containing device may be attached to, or form part of, a storage container for the food. This alternative may be particularly suited for home prepared meals. If the NFC containing device is used with a storage container, the device may be removable from the container, for instance if the container is to be used in harsh conditions such as a hot oven to reheat the food, or scrubbed with abrasives to clean the container after use.

The NFC containing device suitably comprises a NFC chip embedded in the remainder of the device, or sandwiched in the device or formed as part of the device by any other suitable means. The method can be used with fresh food, chilled food, frozen food, pantry stable food and the like. It is envisaged that the method will find particular suitability with home prepared foods placed in containers which have the NFC containing device and then stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The unique identifier is preferably of a type which can store data. The unique identifier is preferably of a type where data can be written and secured to the device memory and retrieved from the device memory.

A reader is provided which is adapted to read the unique identifier. If the unique identifier is a NFC chip, the reader may comprise a NFC chip reader.

In a preferred embodiment, the chip reader is a portable reader which can be hand held. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the reader is a NFC enabled smart phone or even built into a fridge, freezer or other kitchen appliance.

Information about the use-by date for the food can be entered into the memory of the NFC chip or entered into a memory in the reader. The use-by date can be calculated depending on the type of food, whether the food is chilled or frozen and the like. Websites such as http://www.foodsafety.gov can be used to calculate safe storage times and so use-by dates, for a variety of foodstuffs. A database of safe storage times may be generated and stored as part of the App according to an embodiment of the present invention. The method suitably includes the use of an application (App) for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that can be downloaded and opened to provide data entry fields in which the user can enter relevant data such as age of the food at the time, the food type, the date of storage, whether the food is chilled or frozen, the refrigerator or freezer temperature, use before date and the like. The App may contain links to the foodsafety.gov site or other sites, or may contain propriety programmed data on use-by dates.

The App can provide a notification to the user in advance of any upcoming deadline to consume the food. The notification can be in the form of a message from the reader, an alarm, a push, a SMS or email message sent to the user and the like.

The App may include recipes that incorporate the food being stored in the freezer, refrigerator, pantry and the like to suggest meals incorporating the food that needs to be consumed. This may include the order which food, drinks or meals need to be consumed to minimise waste.

The App may include links to on line food ordering websites to enable food items to be ordered on line.

The App may be able to edit/monitor the collision avoidance protocol of the NFC chip to enable multiple NFC chips to be read. The App may include software to order the multiply read NFC chips in a desirable manner which may include ordering the NFC chips according to use-by date, by the type of food being stored, or other type of ranking.

In another form, the invention resides in an App for use in a method for improving food storage which comprises providing a unique identifier in association with the food, the App adapted to be downloaded or otherwise programmed into a reader, the App comprising software adapted to read the unique identifier, having a data input field to input a date that the food should be consumed before, and able to provide a notification on when the food should be consumed.

The App may be downloaded onto the smart phone of tablet, or may comprise, or have some functionality, cloud based or web based.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred features, embodiments and variations of the invention may be discerned from the following Detailed Description which provides sufficient information for those skilled in the art to perform the invention. The Detailed Description is not to be regarded as limiting the scope of the preceding Summary of the Invention in any way. The Detailed Description will make reference to a number of drawings as follows:

Figure 1 is an isometric view of a container for a spoilable item such as food according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The container includes a NFC chip and is sometimes referred to herein as a "smart container".

Figure 2 is an exploded and cross sectional view of the container of Figure

1 .

Figure 3 is an isometric view of a container including a NFC chip according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 4 is an exploded and cross sectional view of the container of

Figure 3. Figure 5 is a block diagram of a use-by date monitoring apparatus in the form of a suitably programmed smartphone, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Figure 6 is a flowchart of the steps that are programmed into an App, i.e. a software product, that resides in memory in the apparatus of Figure 5. is a view of the smartphone of Figure 5 during execution of the App in accordance with a preferred embodment of the present invention.

is a view of a refrigerator storing a number of the smart containers of Figure 1 wherein NFC chips of the smart containers are being scanned by the suitably programmed smartphone.

Figure 9 is a flowchart illustrating steps taken by a User in accordance with a method according to an embodiment of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the Figures and initially to Figures 1 -4, there are illustrated two exemplary "smart" containers for storing food. The container 10 of Figures 1 and 2 has a lid 1 1 formed with a vent 9 that receives a steam vent cover 12 which can be removed from the lid if desired. The vent cover 12 comprises a plastic disc formed with a pocket 13 in which is fitted a NFC chip 14. The NFC chip or "tag" is a known item that can be purchased from various suppliers, for example NXP Semiconductors of Eindhoven Netherlands is one such provider. NFC chips work at about 4 inches distance from the NFC reader/writer device. NFC chips typically use an ISO 14443 A and B wireless standard and as is mentioned later, they are used for many applications including payment points. The NFC chip 14 is preferably a rewritable chip. Figure 5 is a partially exploded section view of the container of Figure 1.

The pocket 13 is formed into the vent cover 12, which is made of plastic and is preferably suitably insulating to protect the NFC chip and make the container chip dishwasher safe. The chip can be embedded in a plastic housing for further protection prior to being fitted into the pocket 13. The vent cover 12 (containing the NFC chip) can be removed from the lid 1 1 , to enable the container 10 to be washed, placed in a hot oven, or microwaved so as to keep the NFC chip from harm's way.

Figures 3 and 4 illustrate another container 10A which has a different type of lid 1 1A which does not have a steam vent and steam vent cover. The lid 1 1A is formed with a space 13A in which an NFC chip 14A is located. In this version the chip cannot be removed from the lid 1 1 A. Figure 4 is a section view of the container 10A.

Each container 10, 10A has an NFC chip with unique data, for example a unique manufacturer serial number, to enable the containers to be separately identified by an NFC reader. The NFC chip containing the unique data is referred to herein as an example of "unique identifier". Similarly, a barcode label coded uniquely may also be referred to as a "unique identifier".

It should be appreciated that the above containers 10A, 10B, are exemplary only and are not to be limiting on the scope of the invention. For example, the NFC chips could be similarly integrated into the lids of travellers' beverage containers such as coffee cups. In that case it may be desirable to partition the NFC card so that it includes information such as pay-terminal User account information so that the User can use his/her coffee cup to pay for public transport ride, a cup of coffee or another product.

Referring now to Figure 5 a use-by date monitor 16 is provided to read information on the NFC chip 14. In the preferred embodiment the use-by date monitor 16 comprises a smartphone (or tablet) which includes a NFC tag read/write assembly 60. Examples of such phones can be found on websites including at http://www.nfcworld.com/nfc-phones-list/. The operating system 38 may include instructions allowing the microprocessor to interpret 1 D and 2D barcodes via the Lens and capacitive charge-discharge (CCD) imaging assembly 39. In some other embodiments of the invention a unique identifier in the form of a barcode may be used rather than a NFC chip to uniquely identify a container.

The use-by date monitor 16 includes a microprocessor 33 that accesses an electronic memory 35. The electronic memory 35 includes an operating system 38 such as the Android operating system or the Apple iOS operating system, for example, for execution by the microprocessor 33. The electronic memory 35 also includes a use-by date notification software product or "App" 47 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The App 47, or as it is sometimes called herein the "smart container App", includes instructions that are executable by the microprocessor 33 in order for the use-by date monitor 16 to log a use-by date associated with a container, identified by a particular NFC tag, and to raise alerts as the use-by date approaches. In the presently described embodiment, the hardware of the use-by date monitor 16 comprises a smartphone and so the microprocessor 33 is in data communication with a plurality of peripheral assemblies 39 to 53 of the smartphone, as indicated in Figure 5, via a data bus 7. The peripheral assemblies 39 to 53, which are identified in Figure 5 are typically present in a smartphone and so will not be discussed in detail. The use-by date monitor 16 is able to establish voice and data communication with a voice and/or data communications network 61 via WAN/WLAN assembly 53 and radio frequency antenna 59. Consequently the use-by date monitor 16 is able to download the smart container App 47 from a remote server 63, such as an "App Store" server such as that maintained by Google Inc.

As will be explained the use-by date monitor 16 is programmed so that it is able to associate information about the contents of a container with the container's unique ID, as stored in the container's NFC chip, and to generate a notification as a use-by date for the contents of the container approaches. Referring now to Figure 6, there is shown a flowchart of a method according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, which the use-by monitor 16 implements under the control of the instructions that are coded into the App 47. At box 70 the microprocessor 33 operates the LCD screen 41 of the use-by monitor 16 to prompt the User to scan the NFC chip 14, i.e. the unique identifier, of a container. As the scan proceeds a unique identifier is captured from the NFC chip 14. At box 72, the microprocessor 72 stores a user description of the food that is in the container and associates that description with the particular NFC chip that has just been scanned.

At box 74 the microprocessor 33 operates the LCD screen 41 to ask the User if the use-by monitor is required to calculate the use-by date for the food in the particular container or if the User will be entering the date directly. If the User responds positively at box 74 then at box 76 the microprocessor prompts for, by means of fields displayed on LCD screen 41 , information about the food such as its quality and where it is being stored, e.g. in a fridge or freezer or at room-temperature in a pantry or cupboard. On the basis of the information that is received the use-by date monitor 16 sets a use-by date at box 78. Alternatively, if at box 74 the User responded that he/she would enter a use-by date, for example simply a date taken from the food label or more preferably an informed estimate, then at box 75 the microprocessor logs that date, as entered by the User. In another embodiment of the invention the User may be prompted to re-scan the NFC chip so that the use-by date monitor 16 can write a flag to the NFC chip to indicate that it has been processed. This step may be helpful if the User wants to subsequently check which NFC chips have been processed by the user of the monitor 16 and which ones have not.

Boxes 80 and 81 comprise a wait cycle wherein the microprocessor checks to see if the current date and time is sufficiently close to the use-by date (i.e. within a notification window) to raise a notification. For example, the notification window may open three days before the use-by date and finish on the use-by date. If the check at box 80 determines that the notification window has not yet opened then at box 81 it waits a small amount of time, for example a few minutes, (or equivalently a corresponding number of microprocessor clock cycles) until checking again. If at box 80 the microprocessor 33 finds that the notification window has opened then at box 82 it raises an alert.

The alert may be raised in many ways. For example, it may simply comprise the microprocessor operating the LCD screen 41 to present a message that "the curry in the refrigerator needs to be used within three days time."

As the microprocessor operates under control of the App it presents operator data input fields such as fields 19 to 22 which are shown on screen 41 of Figure 7. Furthermore, at box 78 of the method set out in Figure 6, the use-by date monitor may establish communications with a remote database of relevant product spoilage information and links to third party websites to obtain further relevant information to assist in determining an appropriate use-by date.

In use, food is placed into a "smart" container (that is, a container such as container 10 of Figures 1 to 2 or container 10A of Figures 3 to 4 provided with a NFC chip). The App 47 on the phone 16 is activated and the chip 14 on the particular container 10A is scanned by the App driven NFC enabled phone 16.

As the microprocessor 33 executes the instructions that comprise the App 47 it presents various operator data entry fields on touch screen 41 for data entry via the touchscreen interface 43. As previously discussed with reference to box 72, these fields can include a description of the food 19 which, when touched, opens a virtual keyboard on screen to enable a description of the food in the container to be entered, for example, "Chicken curry".

Another field 20, which may be presented at box 76 of the flowchart of Figure 6, requires the User to specify where the food is being stored - at room temperature (pantry), the freezer or refrigerator. Other options may also be provided such as freezer temperature ranges etc. Another field 21 , which may also be presented at box 76, may require the User to enter the date of at which the food was placed in the container- which may be automatically populated by the phone date information. Another field 22, which may be presented at box 75, is for the user to enter a use-by date for the food based on the food label, if available or on advice from the foodsafety.gov website, or other website, or from a food spoilage time database provided as part of App 47. Alternatively, as previously discussed with reference to box 78, the microprocessor can either automatically calculate the use-by date (based on the food description, where the food is stored, and when the containers were placed into the storage.).

Another field 23 is presented for the User to input when a notification about the use-by date for the contents of the particular container 10A should be made. This can be automatically generated, or the operator can specify how early the notification should be given thereby effectively varying the notification window that has been discussed with reference to box 80 of the flowchart of Figure 6. As previously mentioned, the notification could comprise a message displayed on the screen 41 or alternatively it could be a sound made by the phone, or an SMS or email message to one or more programmed recipients.

The App 47 may include instructions comprising collision avoidance software to enable the App driven phone (i.e. the use-by date monitor 16) to read several or all the containers in a freezer, or refrigerator or pantry. Thus, referring to Figure 8 an operator can open the door of a refrigerator 25 and use smartphone 16 (programmed by App 47 to act as a use-by date monitor) to read all the smart containers 10x-10w in the refrigerator 25 and set up notifications for each. The App 47 may also include instructions for the microprocessor to rank the containers according to the contents that need to be consumed first and display that information to the User on screen 41 or in a SMS text or email. The App 47 may also include software or links to suggest recipes that include the container contents in order to encourage the User to consume the stored food prior to its use-by date. Figure 9 illustrates a typical flowchart on how the NFC chips and App driven phone may be used from the perspective a typical user. At box 91 the User acquires smart containers such as containers 10A or 10B. Alternatively, at box 91 the User may simply acquire unique identifiers, such as suitably programmed barcode stickers or the previously discussed NFC chips and adhere them to containers. At box 92 the User prepares food and drink for storage in the containers. At box 93 the User downloads App 47 on to a smartphone to thereby render the smartphone to be a use-by date monitor such as the previously discussed monitor 16. At box 94 the User stores the food and/or drink in the containers and attachs the NFC chips or barcodes, which are generally referred to as "Smart Discs" in box 94. At box 95 the User operates the use-by date monitor 16 (e.g. a smartphone programmed with App 47) to scan the unique identifier, e.g. the NFC chip and to enter other information as previously discussed. At box 96 the App 47, or more precisely the smartphone 16 programmed with the App 47, generates notifications to the User alterting the User to whch food or drink needs to be consumed before it reaches its use-by date.

The container can contain home prepared food. However, pre-packaged supermarket food (such as a potato salad) can also be added to a container such that the use-by date can be more easily tracked by the use-by date monitor 16.

Pantry items can be placed in a container to track their use-by date. The container and App combination can be used to track virtually any product spoilage deadline for a food or other product. For example, medicines also have a use-by date and so the previously described method is equally applicable in that regard. The NFC chip can also comprise a sticker, tag or similar that can be applied to the food packaging, such that a separate container is not required.

Thus packaging such as bottles, jars, cans, packets, boxes and the like can have the NFC chip applied to the packaging to benefit from the method of the invention.

The method according to an embodiment of the invention uses a NFC enabled "smart" container with a paired mobile app.

RFID (radio frequency identification) or QR code (quick response code) or other such technology may also have suitability as a unique identifier with the method and with use of the App. The inventor believes that due to their busy lives, people forget about the food / drink that they have in the fridge, freezer or pantry so that food is wasted yet around the world people starve. The present invention can reduce such wastage. Embodiments of the invention can easily scan and record food or drink details, gain typical 'use-by dates' for that type of food or drink based on your storage method i.e. fridge or freezer, set reminder types and frequency, plan and suggests family meals, gain recipe suggestions based use-by / best before dates, and allows reordering of meals if you 'miss' a meal.

There may be circumstances where the unique identifier may comprise other than a NFC chip. Thus the identifier may comprise a unique code (for instance a Q code) that can be read by the reader. The NFC technology is preferred as the reader needs only to be proximal to the container to read the NFC chip.

The above description identifies at least one specific, substantial and credible use for the invention, which includes a method to reduce food waste. In compliance with the statute, the invention has been described in language more or less specific to structural or methodical features. The term "comprises" and its variations, such as "comprising" and "comprised of is used throughout in an inclusive sense and not to the exclusion of any additional features.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to specific features shown or described since the means herein described comprises preferred forms of putting the invention into effect. The invention is, therefore, claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the proper scope of the appended claims appropriately interpreted by those skilled in the art.

Throughout the specification and claims (if present), unless the context requires otherwise, the term "substantially" or "about" will be understood to not be limited to the value for the range qualified by the terms.

Throughout the description and claims of this specification, the singular encompasses the plural unless the context otherwise requires. In particular, where the indefinite article is used, the specification is to be understood as contemplating plurality as well as singularity, unless the context requires otherwise.

Features, integers, characteristics, compounds, chemical moieties or groups described in conjunction with a particular aspect, embodiment or example of the invention are to be understood to be applicable to any other aspect, embodiment or example described herein unless incompatible therewith.

Any embodiment of the invention is meant to be illustrative only and is not meant to be limiting to the invention. Therefore, it should be appreciated that various other changes and modifications can be made to any embodiment described without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A method for monitoring a use-by date of a product comprising the steps of:
associating a machine readable unique identifier with the product;
operating a microprocessor based unique identifier reading device to read the unique identifier;
storing a use-by date for the product in association with the unique identifier; and
issuing an electronic notification to a User prior to the use-by date to thereby assist the User to avoid wastage of the product.
2. A method according to claim 1 , wherein the machine readable unique identifier comprises a near field communication (NFC) chip.
3. A method according to claim 2, wherein the step of associating the machine readable unique identifier with the product comprises fastening the NFC chip to a container in which the product is stored.
4. A method according to claim 3, wherein the NFC chip is embedded in a member that is detachable from the container.
5. A method according to any one of the preceding claims including operating the microprocessor to determine the use-by date from information entered by a User including information regarding storage conditions for the product.
6. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the type and frequency of the notifications is set according to User preference.
7. A method according to claim 6, including notifying the User by any one of a message on a screen of the device; a short messaging service (SMS) text message; an email.
8. A use-by date monitoring apparatus for preventing wastage of a spoilable product including:
a microprocessor in communication with an electronic memory;
a reading assembly in communication with the microprocessor for reading a machine readable unique identifier;
the electronic memory containing machine readable instructions for the microprocessor to:
read the unique identifier;
associate the unique identifier with the spoilable product;
store a use-by date for the spoilable product;
issue a notification within a period prior to the use-by date whereby a recipient of the notification is able to take action to avoid wastage of the spoilable product.
9. An apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the machine readable unique identifier comprises a NFC tag.
10. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the reading assembly is arranged to read and write to the NFC tag.
1 1 . An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the electronic memory includes instructions for the microprocessor to operate the reading assembly to write data to the NFC chip indicating that the NFC chip has been read.
12. A computer software product comprising tangible, non-transitory instructions for a microprocessor based device to read the unique identifier; associate the unique identifier with the spoilable product;
store a use-by date for the spoilable product; and
issue a notification within a period prior to the use-by date whereby a recipient of the notification is able to take action to avoid wastage of the spoilable product.
PCT/AU2016/000344 2015-10-08 2016-10-08 Improvements in food storage WO2017059480A1 (en)

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Cited By (3)

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